Saxophonist John Coltrane, Randalls Island,
New York City, c. 1958.
Courtesy of Chuck Stewart.
Though he never described himself as a political activist, Coltrane was nonetheless musically active in the Civil Rights movement. In 1964 he performed in a number a benefit concerts for Martin Luther King Jr., and composed this solemn elegy in response to a church bombing in Birmingham, AL, that killed four young girls.